A Dash Of Him

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DONOVAN Chapter 23

*DONOVAN*

It's been a couple of weeks since I saw Duke and I couldn't be happier. Ok, I'm lying. I am happy for him because he has a spark in his eyes like he use to when Emilio was alive. But deep inside I always had a crush on Duke and it burned me that Dash was with him. I noticed Duke in high school but Emilio had more courage to talk to him. I encouraged Emilio to go for it and he did.

I stopped myself from talking to Duke because I hid from my sexuality. I didn't want everyone to know or think I was trying to take Emilio's spotlight in high school. He was popular and an inspiration to everyone in high school. He had a heart of gold and I wanted him to be happy so that's why I gave him the push to talk to Duke, even though deep inside I was shooting myself.

He got the man of his dreams, both of them did. Now I'm here living a fake life, still hiding from everyone. I enjoyed being a pro football player but I am happy? No. Do I enjoy all the perks of being famous? Yes. But deep down I'm empty. I'm a black hole of emptiness and after getting in touch with Duke again, I'm yearning to have his happiness.

I know his heart was shattered when Emilio passed away. I remembered when I flew in after one of my football games. I was devastated when I heard the news of Emilio's accident. I never cry but I broke down in one of my hotel rooms. I remembered the day I walked into the funeral home. It was a gloomy day as rain poured down and thunder roared in the sky.

******

*A YEAR AGO*

The rain poured down as the gray sky became darker by the minute. It added to the hole in my heart. My best friend was gone and that didn't sit right with me. I know we were on and off after high school but he was like a brother to me. I know I fucked up once but that made our bond stronger.

My lips trembled as I cracked my neck and held the tears that knotted in my throat. Grace squeezed my hand and pulled me towards her. "Hey, I know you're hurting and I'm here for you, just remember we are married, don't let it slip out," we were at a fundraiser not so long ago and I called Grace my best friend. Suspicious eyes studied us but Grace fixed it right away.

I swallowed hard as we walked towards the entrance of the room where Emilio was. We approached the entrance and I nearly blacked out. I saw his open casket and that's when I lost it. My tears came pouring down as my lips trembled. Grace squeezed my hand as her eyes got watery as well. Her gray eyes slowly turned into a deep gray tone. Her lips trembled as her eyes averted to the casket. I saw Emilio's mom crying into Emilio's dad's shoulder. Fuck, this is more painful than I thought.

Then I saw him. Duke was sitting in the front row, with his parents, as he sat still. He stood up and walked slowly to Emilio's casket then he cried loudly. He leaned in and hugged Emilio. His pain radiated inside this tiny room. "Emilio! Why did you leave me! Why?! I never got to say goodbye!" his agony pierced my heart. Grace squeezed my hand as she covered her mouth and heard her sniffle.

Emilio dropped to the floor and cried loudly. "I'll be right back," Grace nodded and sat on a chair in the back. I beelined towards Duke and my heart slowly began to break. I was getting closer as Emilio's pale face began more visible. I glanced over to Emilio's parents as Esmeralda cried into her husband's chest. I got closer as I froze when I saw Emilio's scratched face and blue lips. But I psyched myself out of this abyss that settled in my heart. I kneeled and rubbed Duke's back. "Hey, hey," his bloodshot eyes shot up as he immediately pulled me down and hugged my neck.

"Don, he's gone. I can't live with this pain inside me. He picked me to be his husband and now he's gone. Please take this pain away, please," he could barely talk but I sat next to him. I glanced up and saw guests staring at us but I didn't give one fuck. I glanced at Grace who had a tissue over he mouth. I nodded at her as she did the same.

Duke's proximity put me at ease. I've always had a crush on him and right now all I wanted was to take his pain away but I had to be cautious. My marriage to Grace was just a front to cover up who I was. I hated lying to myself but the pressure of my parents just made me hide who I was. I didn't want to disappoint them but I was disappointing myself.

Duke finally calmed down and slowly pulled away from me. "Don, you're here," damn he's out of it. His blue eyes were almost like the night sky, his light was lost when Emilio died. I closed my eyes as a warm tear fell down my cheeks.

"Yeah, I am."

"Please don't let me go," he buried his head into my chest as we sat on the floor for a few minutes.

But the funeral was the worst of them. Esmeralda fainted when Emilio was buried into the ground. Duke went nuts and started to dig out the fresh sand. I had to hold him because he was lost. Grace held him as well and all I could do is watch my best friend get buried. It was one of the worst days in all my life.

******

*PRESENT DAY*

After that I lost contact with Duke, not by choice but because he locked himself away from everyone. I was surprised he answered me a couple of weeks ago. I'm glad he did and I'm glad he has a shine into his eyes. I know Dash doesn't like me. I'm not trying to get with Duke but I felt that tug inside my heart just like I did in high school. He seems happy with Dash so I should be glad. I've seen him support Dash in all his games and they are quickly becoming the talk in the media.

Grace came from the bedroom and sat next to me. I glanced over at her and gave her a quick smirk. "Don, what's going on in that head of yours?" Even though we weren't intimate she knew me better than myself at times.

"Are you happy doing all this? Lying to the media?" her eyes softened as she put a strand of hair behind her ear. I studied her and she's been an angel for what she's doing for me. She can have any man in the world but she chose me, well helped me. Her gray were like tiny galaxies, her luscious brown waves shined like the sun, and her body glowed like a goddess. She's one of the most desirable models. I couldn't be luckier but deep inside my life was a lie.

"Don, you're my best friend. You helped me get confidence in college and you never came on to me but that's after you told me you were gay," we both chuckled as she grabbed my hand. "I'm happy but lately I haven't seen you happy. How can I help you now?" I gave her a faint smile. I wanted to come out. Dash is a pro athlete and he's completely out. They love him regardless of what happened in his past. I want what he has and more. I want a Duke for me.

My parents loved Grace and once I became famous the media noticed me and Grace always together. Then my parents told me when I was going to tie the knot with her. I asked Grace to help me out and she agreed. We've been married for a couple of years and it's been great. We've tricked the media that we have a perfect life together. Her career boomed once designers spotted her. Her long legs and the killer body were every woman's envy and every guy's dream. But mostly she was an angel.

"I'm living a life that is not me," her eyes softened, my words didn't come out correctly. "Grace, you've been a blessing in my life and I can't thank you enough but I think it's time I talk to my parents and then to my publicist. I want to fill the void that I've suppressed for so long," her eyes smiled as she squeezed my hand.

"I'll be right next to you every step of the way."

"You're going to make a man happy someday," I squeezed her cheek as she giggled.

"I like being with you. It's going to be weird when this is over but all I want is you to be happy. You need a man, Don. You're hot and so caring. Any guy would be so lucky to have you."

"Well now that we cleared that up we need to get ready for that Halloween gala," it was a fundraiser for breast cancer, she was going to be Catwoman and I was going to be Batman.

She stood up excitedly. "Don, smile," I chuckled and stood up. I wasn't up for dressing up but she always cheered me up. "Go take a shot, it will relax you," she ran towards her room as I went to the minibar. I poured myself a shot and gulped it down, within minutes my body was relaxed. I went to my room and put my costume on. Little did I know that I was going to find out a truth I didn't want to know.

******

Lights flashed as we got out of our limousine. I grabbed Grace's hand as we posed for a couple of photos.

"When are the babies coming?" A reporter asked and my heart started to beat faster. I stood frozen as I didn't know how to answer but Grace helped me.

"Right now we are too busy with our careers but maybe in the future," she sweetly smiled.

I finally got a word out. "We are young and want to enjoy our busy lives but it's coming," I like kids. I do want a husband and a family but one move at a time. I need to come out and then figure out what I'm supposed to do after.

We posed for a couple of more pictures then we walked into the shrine. We walked into the reception as pink ribbons were placed all over the place. My costume was a bit snug on some parts of my body especially my crotch area but I think I'll survive.

Then I saw him. Duke and Dash dressed as Mario and Luigi. I recognized Duke by his crystal blue eyes. I squeezed Grace's hand as we walked over. I don't think he's recognized me with my mask. "Duke," his eyes averted to me as he tried to recognize who I was.

"Oh my god, Don?"

He sounded more lively and excited. They both wore fake mustache's but Dash's eyes glared at me but I ignored them for now. "Yup, it's me," I averted to Grace as she sweetly smiled at both of them. "This is my wife, Grace," I swallowed hard. My hands began to sweat and my body started to burn.

"Pleasure, both of you. Don, really likes watching you play," she told Dash and that made his eyes soften. Yeah, as much as I don't want to admit it. I love watching him play. I've seen his team moving up and they haven't lost a game. Dash is known for his leadership and determination in hockey. I'm glad he has Duke by his side.

I drank a bunch of water before we came. I needed to use the restroom. "Babe, can I leave you with Duke. I need to use the restroom."

"Of course, we'll go to the bar and grab a drink."

I nodded as I left for the restroom. I went down a dim-lit hallway as I used the restroom quickly. Thank god for the spandex zipper. I washed my hand and quickly got out. I walked towards the main reception when someone grabbed my hand. It was a woman in a Poison Ivy costume. "Yes, may I help you?" I thought it was a fan but she held a manila folder.

"Don't worry who I am, just what I'm about to hand to you," she had a red wig with a bunch of buns on the top as the red waves cascaded down her back. She wore heavy makeup and green glitter that it was hard to tell who she was.

She handed the folder to me. "Maybe you should know the truth of what really happened to Emilio," my eyes shot towards her. She waved and walked away. I stood frozen as a chill went down my spine. What truth? I came back to my senses as I slowly opened the folder. It was pictures of Emilio's red Mercedes, it was smashed on the driver's side. I closed my eyes and held my tears. Why did she show me this? I know Duke didn't want to know who killed Emilio. I asked him but he said he didn't want to know as well as Emilio's parents. So I never asked again.

There was an article attached and my eyes saw one name.

"Dashiell Mitchell's brother, Kieran Mitchell, is taken into custody by local authorities for the death of Emilio Michelson."

My blood boiled as I started to ball the article in my hand. This fuckers brother killed my best friend and Duke's husband. Does he fucken know? He's about to find out.
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